Whether it’s a lack of decent-paying jobs or an advertising-induced confusion between wants and needs or a propensity to spend without simultaneously practicing the refined art of saving, many Americans reside in financially precarious conditions. National household debt, for example, is on the rise, with consumers currently owing $11.3 trillion. Furthermore, nearly half of the country’s occupied homes are one monetary disaster away from poverty.
Then there’s the growing problem of student loans. According to the Los Angeles Times, outstanding student-loan balances increased $33 billion to $1.03 trillion in the third quarter of 2013, and a record 12 percent of loans were delinquent by 90 days or more.
New research, however, suggests a central reason people don’t bother storing cash stems from the prominent belief that the future will be different from the past, as opposed to just more of the same. In a recent article published online by the journal Psychological Science titled “Saving in Cycles: How to Get People to Save More Money,” co-authors Leona Tam from the University of Wollongong in Australia and Utpal Dholakia from Rice University argue that instead of thinking about time in linear terms, where a bank statement reporting robust numbers floats out there somewhere on the not-so-distant horizon, Americans who struggle with saving should start imagining that events recur without end. If that’s a tad bit confusing, just picture Bill Murray’s predicament in Groundhog Day.
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